Series 3: Program Management Identify Phase Process

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Program Management Identify Phase Process

The Identify Phase starts with a Program Proposal (Mandate) which is generated from organisational strategy, policy or an emerging program and signed off by the Sponsoring Group. It is typically a short phase that turns a concept into a tangible business proposition.

Objective

To:

  • Take a high level concept, from an approved Program Proposal, and turn it into a business proposition defining the expected benefits, costs, timescales and risks in a Program Brief document.


In a way that:

  • Defines the objectives and scope of the program
  • Describes who is accountable for the sponsorship of the program
  • Develops a high level schedule and an estimate of resources required to carry out the Define Phase
  • Defines which stakeholders have to be engaged at a strategic or program benefit level
  • Identifies likely business changes (Blueprint)
  • Identifies any dependencies for Define and potential dependencies for the entire program
  • Gains commitment and approval of the program from the appropriate level of senior management.

So that:

  • The program starts in a planned and controlled way
  • Sufficient information is available for governance go / no-go decision making.

Entry Criteria


The following criteria should be met before beginning this activity:

  • Program Proposal (approved)
  • Published organisational strategy and/or business plans

Exit Criteria


The following criteria should be met before completing this activity:

  • Senior Responsible Owner is identified and engaged
  • Program Proposal (Mandate) is confirmed and updated
  • Interim Program Board appointed
  • Program Brief developed, reviewed and signed-off
  • Strategic stakeholders defined and their role in the program defined
  • Program Preparation plan developed, reviewed and signed-off
  • Approval received to move to the Define Phase.

Outputs

Identify Phase Process Map

Appoint Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), Interim Program Board and Confirm Program Proposal

The Sponsoring Group identify and agree the Senior Responsible Owner, who is chosen from the Sponsoring Group (refer to Program Roles & Responsibilities for guidance on the key attributes to look for when appointing an SRO). The Senior Responsible Owner then creates the Interim Program Board for the Identify Phase; this is a small team that assists the SRO in producing the Program Brief and Program Preparation Plan.
Program Manager and Business Change Owner roles are not appointed at this time as the program is not considered a formal program until it reaches the Define Phase. Note that it is likely that those assigned to the Interim Board for this phase may be appointed into official roles in the following program phase. The Organisation Project Office (OPO) is available to assist/provide guidance in the appointment of roles.


The Program Proposal, which is the mandate for a program, articulates:
• The strategic objectives of the program
• Expected outcomes and benefits
• Very high level cost and time estimates (±100%)
• Potential risks
• How the program fits with other initiatives.

This information sets the scene for a controlled start-up to the program and should be confirmed at the outset. The Program Proposal is reviewed by the Senior Responsible Owner.

Overlooking this task could cause the following challenges:
• Ambiguous program accountability and responsibility leading to no clear ownership or leadership driving the program and resulting outcomes
• No clear mandate for the program leading to ambiguity if the program’s validity is challenged.

Exit Criteria

The following criteria should be met before completing this step:• The Senior Responsible Owner is assigned
• The Interim Program Board is appointed
• The Program Proposal is confirmed and updated, where necessary.

Activities to be completed
During this step, the Sponsoring Group will:
• Identify and agree the Senior Responsible Owner.

During this step, the Senior Responsible Owner will:
• Appoint the Interim Program Board
• Review Program Proposal for completeness and relevance, update where necessary
• Confirm the reviewed Proposal with the Sponsoring Group (if a Program Proposal does not exist then the relevant information is gathered and consolidated into a Proposal document and presented to the Sponsoring Group for approval).

Inputs
Program Proposal (Mandate)
• Organisational Strategy

Outputs
• Senior Responsible Owner appointed
• Interim Program Board formed
• Program Proposal (updated, if necessary)

Roles
• Sponsoring Group
• Senior Responsible Owner
• (Interim) Program Board
• Organisation Project Office (OPO)

Produce Program Brief

The Senior Responsible Owner is responsible for producing the Program Brief (a very high level business case). The Program Brief provides a formal basis for assessing whether the proposed program is viable and achievable. Using the Program Proposal as a basis, the Program Brief document is created to provide the following information at a high-level, the program’s vision, estimated costs and timescales, benefits, potential risks, current vs. future state and alignment to the organisational strategy. Options for delivery may also be included.
The use of the Program Brief, rather than a highly detailed business case, at this early stage of a program helps to avoid futile and often time-consuming work on detailed financial analysis when the overall concept of a proposed program may not be viable for reasons other than financial justification
The Program Brief, once approved, provides the basis for development of the program’s Business Case and other program management information produced in the Define Phase.
The following questions should be considered when producing the Program Brief:
• Why is the program being undertaken? What is the background to the problem or the situation which has prompted the organisation to potentially go ahead with the program?
• What is required of the program? What are the objectives and budget available for the program and the individual projects? (Note: a guideline for accuracy level at this phase is +50%-25%)
• What are the expected benefits of the individual projects and the overall program? (Note: a guideline for accuracy level at this phase is +50%-25%)
• Who is involved in the program? What will program staff be responsible for? What staff are available? Will the program require day-to-day supervision?
• Who are the strategic stakeholders? What are their interests and expectations? What role will they play in the program? What are the timeframes needed for meaningful engagement?
• What communications will be required?
• When is the program to start and finish? What are the start and finish dates of the projects comprising the program?
• What are the program internal dependencies? What are the external dependencies and constraints?
• What approach will be taken for delivering the program? Where will the projects be undertaken? What methodology will be used for the program and projects?
• What level of change will the program deliver? What are the potential impacts to the business?
• What is the level of confidentiality for this program?
• What is the level of confidence regarding key estimates (time, cost, benefits)?

Overlooking this task could cause the following challenges:
• The program may not be sufficiently defined or aligned to the organisational strategy
• The approach may become ad-hoc and the program may encounter problems in later phases
• Expectations of the program and what it will deliver may not be realistic.

Exit Criteria
The following criteria should be met before completing this activity:
• The Program Brief is produced.

Activities to be completed
During this step, the Senior Responsible Owner will:
• Work with the Interim Program Board to produce the Program Brief.

Inputs
Program Proposal
• Organisational Strategy

Outputs

Roles
• Senior Responsible Owner
• Business Change Owner (if appointed)
• Program Board

Develop Program Preparation Plan

Once the Program Brief has been produced, the Program Preparation Plan is then developed. The Program Preparation Plan provides the detailed planning for the Define Phase. It provides the Sponsoring Group with the cost, time, activities and resource to complete the next phase which will ultimately produce a compelling Business Case and Program Definition Documentation.
The Senior Responsible Owner is accountable for the Program Preparation Plan.
Typical content in a Program Preparation Plan includes:
• Skills and resources required (and where they will be sourced from)
• Governance during the Define phase
• Description of deliverables from the Define Phase
• Schedule of activities, including engagement activities
• Dependencies in Deliver Phase
• Tolerances for the Define Phase
• Membership of the Program Board.

Overlooking this task could cause the following challenges:
• The effort to execute the next phase is not well understood or budgeted for leading to an overrun of time and budget
• The approach to the next phase is ad-hoc and the program may encounter problems in later phases.

Exit Criteria
The following criteria should be met before completing this activity:
• The Program Preparation Plan is produced.

Activities to be completed
During this step, the Senior Responsible Owner will:
• Ensure a robust Program Preparation Plan is developed.

Inputs
Program Proposal
Program Brief

Outputs
Program Preparation Plan

Roles
• Senior Responsible Owner
• Program Board

Approval to Proceed to Define Phase

This governance step is a formal meeting to authorise the continuation of the program into the Define Phase. The key documents to be reviewed are the Program Brief and Program Preparation Plan.
A meeting with the Sponsoring Group is scheduled and all key documentation sent to the group for review prior to the meeting. At this meeting the Sponsoring Group may approve the program to continue on to the next phase, request additional work to be undertaken before a decision can be made, put the program on hold or terminate the program.

Overlooking this task could cause the following challenges:
• No formal approval to proceed into the Define Phase.

Exit Criteria
The following criteria should be met before completing this activity:
• Approval to proceed and OPO informed, or
• Program hold notification and OPO informed, or
• Program closure notification and OPO informed.

Activities to be completed
During this step, the Senior Responsible Owner should:
• Seek approval for the program to proceed into the Define Phase.

Inputs
Program Brief
Program Preparation Plan

Outputs
Program Brief (approved)
• Approval to proceed / hold program / close program

Roles
• Senior Responsible Owner
• Program Board
• Sponsoring Group

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